How to Successfully Implement Cloud Strategies

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1 How to Successfully Implement Cloud Strategies

2 Aligning Rather than simply being swept up in the cloud computing trend, IT admins must be careful to implement cloud strategies that match their organization's particular needs. This expert e-guide, from SearchServer.com, explores how to successfully align virtualization and cloud strategies with business goals. Also, learn how virtualization can improve server efficiency. Aligning with Business Goals As an IT admin, it is often difficult to explain what you do with a simple answer. Your job is not simple or one-dimensional; system administration is merely the tip of the iceberg. You manage networks, storage arrays and servers so your company can provide services to customers and reach business goals. When considering cloud strategies for your organization, you can't lose sight of this bigger picture and you must keep these ultimate goals in mind. In the case of cloud strategies, maybe you choose to deploy a business model similar to an Internet service provider and establish a private cloud to provide services to business units. You could also employ a public cloud to offload time-consuming maintenance tasks. You might even use cloud services to move non-revenue-generating tasks out of your data center. All of these are useful cloud strategies, but you must ask yourself if they truly align with your business goals. Cloud strategies for every business model Private cloud models often assume that your organization is broken into a number of smaller units that will consume these services. A large corporation, or one covering multiple product lines, would benefit from a private cloud. In those instances, a number of smaller organizations or enduser groups consume IT resources from a common pool. A private cloud Page 2 of 7

3 strategy helps provision and delegate tasks that are better performed closer to the customer. Aligning Public cloud strategies can fit a wide range of business models. In fact, many organizations put public cloud services to use long before they actually realize it: Individual employees or groups might use cloud-based file sharing, or messaging. In this case, you should examine why employees are choosing these public cloud services, especially if your organization already provides the same services. The value of public cloud strategies comes from their ability to offload services that would be too costly or simply too distracting for you to provide internally. Every service your organization provides comes with an opportunity cost, and takes time and resources away from another potential service. That being the case, organizations should make it a priority to align IT resources with business goals. Any task that does not advance business goals is a prime candidate for a public cloud service. Rapid growth, shortterm projects and disaster recovery needs also benefit from public cloud services. That strategy lowers the long-term cost of providing short-term resources. Hybrid cloud services merge the benefits of both public and private cloud strategies. To provide core business functions, an organization may implement a private cloud. At the same time, it may outsource non-critical, non-revenue generating functions to a public cloud. Ideally, a hybrid cloud will allow resources to move between the public and private cloud environments. This enables the organization to make resource placement decisions in real-time based on a number of business and market criteria. In a way, this strategy resembles a hybrid car. Rather than relying solely on either cloud, both are engaged as needed to provide the greatest total value. Page 3 of 7

4 Aligning As cloud computing evolves from a buzzword into a common practice, make sure that your organization understands it is just as much a tool to further business goals as it is a tool to further IT goals. Otherwise your long-term vision will simply cloud over. Meet the Hype? Several years ago, server virtualization rolled into the data center with all of the outrageous promises and unbelievable claims of a sideshow barker. Experts and vendors claimed it was going to improve server efficiency, shrink your infrastructure, slash bloated power bills, make cumbersome administrative tasks disappear and cure the common cold. The sales pitch was smooth and we all bought in, but has virtualization fulfilled the promises? Let's take a look at one of those lofty claims and see if it held up to real world experiences. Did your infrastructure shrink when you implemented virtualization? That really depends on a number of factors. I saw many organizations that had an extremely poor first-phase implementation. In many cases, they did not see any real reduction in infrastructure, at least not on the level promised. This was not due to shortcomings in virtualization technology. Instead, this was more the fault of "overselling" without providing the necessary qualifiers. Virtualizing multiple workloads onto a single physical server required more memory than the average server was shipping with. In this initial wave of virtualization, most organizations installed hypervisors on repurposed hardware that was not configured for virtual workloads. Due to these resource limitations, the initial wave of virtualization did more to absorb future growth than it did to shrink the data center. However, the subsequent generations of hardware were designed with virtualization in mind, and it enabled much higher memory densities. As organizations began to deploy virtual environments on the purpose-built hardware, there was a boom in virtualization. However, data centers still were not shrinking. This time, Page 4 of 7

5 though, it was not because virtualization was failing to meet server efficiency goals. Aligning Businesses realized that the cost of implementing new technology had just gone down, and they leveraged that to implement additional technologies. Servers cost less to deploy and could be provisioned in minutes instead of weeks, so the floodgates opened. This phenomenon became known as virtual sprawl, and it consumed resources at an unbelievable rate. It wasn't that virtualization was not delivering on server efficiency promises, it was more an issue of achieving consolidation ratios high enough to outpace this new boom in demand. With the spotlight now shining on virtualization, both hardware vendors and hypervisor development teams have increased their efforts to make better use of virtual resources. While the number of virtual machines took off, advancements in virtualization and server platforms allowed the overall data center footprint to not only remain steady, but to actually shrink. At this point, virtualization was truly doing more with less. So, was virtualization the savior of the modern server? In many ways, the answer is yes. In fact, it may have also been the savior of many businesses. It lowered the technology barrier of entry at a time when financial markets were uncertain and few businesses had budgets to expand their technology investments. Instead of simply holding the line, virtualization allowed these businesses to actually expand and implement new technologies. At the same time, virtualization brought along some unintended consequences. The very factors that made virtual servers easier to deploy also made them more difficult to administer. This was an organizational challenge, but one that echoed in almost every IT shop as they experienced the growing pains of implementing a virtual infrastructure. Server administration teams initially deployed most virtual environments. While they were virtualizing physical storage and networking assets within their new environments, the storage and networking teams were either not invited to the party or chose not to participate. Soon, there were network issues that the networking teams could not see or touch, and storage issues that left the Page 5 of 7

6 Aligning storage administration teams trying to identify bottlenecks inside of a black box where they had no visibility. Most organizations realized this problem as their technology teams were sitting around a table pointing fingers at each other after a major outage. While virtualization technology allowed the organization to reach higher levels of server efficiency, legacy organizational practices threatened to negate all these benefits. Did virtualization fail us? Not at all. I think virtualization has lived up to all of its initial promises, though I would have to say the timeline did stretch quite a bit. For the most part, it was the limitations of physical resources that initially held virtualization back. Later, it was the reluctance of organizations to adapt to new paradigms that threatened to undermine the dramatic gains of virtualization. In the end, though, I cannot imagine a modern technology landscape without virtualization. It was not a magic pill, immediately easing our technology pains. Instead, it was a treatment plan, putting in place a series of steps to not only address our ailments, but to leave us stronger than when we began. Page 6 of 7

7 Aligning Free resources for technology professionals TechTarget publishes targeted technology media that address your need for information and resources for researching products, developing strategy and making cost-effective purchase decisions. Our network of technology-specific Web sites gives you access to industry experts, independent content and analysis and the Web s largest library of vendor-provided white papers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, virtual trade shows, research reports and more drawing on the rich R&D resources of technology providers to address market trends, challenges and solutions. Our live events and virtual seminars give you access to vendor neutral, expert commentary and advice on the issues and challenges you face daily. Our social community IT Knowledge Exchange allows you to share real world information in real time with peers and experts. What makes TechTarget unique? TechTarget is squarely focused on the enterprise IT space. Our team of editors and network of industry experts provide the richest, most relevant content to IT professionals and management. We leverage the immediacy of the Web, the networking and face-to-face opportunities of events and virtual events, and the ability to interact with peers all to create compelling and actionable information for enterprise IT professionals across all industries and markets. Related TechTarget Websites Page 7 of 7

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